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Keeping Left

Edmund Dell, 2 October 1980

The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... He was no longer the man he had been. Harold Lever is portrayed as a man too devoted to playing bridge with the Establishment – his membership of a Labour Cabinet was increasingly inappropriate. I myself disagreed frequently with Harold’s views on macro-economic policy, though perhaps from a point of view even more distasteful to Barbara. But I know of ...

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders, 13 August 2020

... by peroxide), of burying your feelings lest they betray you.Donald’s best friend, Roy Redgrave, discovered that his father kept a loaded .45 service revolver hidden under his bedside table. Roy knew his father as ‘a happy-go-lucky man’, so why did he feel threatened in his own home? ...

My Life with Harold Wilson

Peter Jenkins, 20 December 1979

Final Term: The Labour Government 1974-76 
by Harold Wilson.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 322 pp., £8.95
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... Britain staying in Europe. He has shown great political skill and insight.’ He reports also that Roy Jenkins subsequently conceded, most generously, that he had ‘misunderstood’ Wilson’s handling of the issue. It is true, I now think, that Wilson could not have held the European line, and the Labour Party together, through the years of opposition ...

What can the matter be?

Denis Donoghue, 5 April 1990

Ulster Politics: The Formative Years, 1868-86 
by B.M. Walker.
Ulster Historical Foundation/Institute of Irish Studies, 327 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 901905 40 2
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Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society 
by J.J. Lee.
Cambridge, 754 pp., £55, January 1990, 0 521 26648 3
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... in point, the walls of Derry were completed in 1618. Catholics, ‘a threatening majority’, as Roy Foster describes them in Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (1988), were not allowed to live in the town, so they clustered in the Bogside beyond the walls. On 12 August 1969 the (Protestant) Apprentice Boys held their customary triumphalist march through the streets ...

Who kicked them out?

Diarmaid MacCulloch: St Patrick’s Purgatory, 1 August 2019

St Patrick Retold: The Legend and History of Ireland’s Patron Saint 
by Roy Flechner.
Princeton, 320 pp., £22, March 2019, 978 0 691 18464 7
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... can we recover a ‘genuine’ Patrick from our long-lost pair of texts? Many have tried. Roy Flechner seeks to unite those efforts in his own way, while also describing the saint’s encrustation of legend; all done for the general reader with commendable economy. Patrick provides some tantalisingly specific details about himself, including the name ...

Asking to Be Looked at

Wayne Koestenbaum, 25 January 1996

Mapplethorpe: A Biography 
by Patricia Morrisroe.
Macmillan, 461 pp., £20, September 1995, 9780333669419
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Playing with the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe 
by Arthur Danto.
California, 206 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 520 20051 9
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... in reality nurtured by underground skin-industries, and his achievement was to build a credible bridge between the divergent milieux. He did a cover photo for the gay S/M porn magazine Drummer, and it was through this far-left-of-centre gig that he discovered some of his first models. Yet he was hardly alone in traversing libidinal frontiers. For ...

Bill and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

Christopher Hitchens, 20 February 1997

Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties 
by Dick Morris.
Random House, 382 pp., $25.95, January 1997, 9780679457473
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... fix too badly. I agreed to do the polling. Morris is a second cousin of Jules Feiffer and also of Roy Cohn. What a gene-pool, to have produced America’s most mordant radical cartoonist and also its leading fascist closet-case and McCarthyite spear-bearer. Morris doesn’t mention Feiffer at all in this book, but he does tell a few wide-boy stories about ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... Baroness James, making a rare visitation to a blighted metropolitan zone, downriver of Tower Bridge, has written a very useful book, a book on which I will be happy to draw for years to come. That was back in 1972. Title? The Maul and the Pear Tree; co-authored by T.A. Critchley of the Police Department at the Home Office, where James then earned her crust as a Principal in the Criminal Policy Department ...

Old, Old, Old, Old, Old

John Kerrigan: Late Yeats, 3 March 2005

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. II: The Arch-Poet 1915-39 
by Roy Foster.
Oxford, 822 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 0 19 280609 2
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... the play has tended to muffle its strangeness. It is the great achievement of the second volume of Roy Foster’s superb biography that it delivers us late Yeats in all his troublesome immediacy. Foster does this not just by cutting across the record with new facts from the archive – itself a considerable feat, given that half a dozen biographers have ...

Posthumous Gentleman

Michael Dobson: Kit Marlowe’s Schooldays, 19 August 2004

The World of Christopher Marlowe 
by David Riggs.
Faber, 411 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 571 22159 9
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Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground 
by Roy Kendall.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 453 pp., $75, January 2004, 0 8386 3974 7
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Tamburlaine Must Die 
by Louise Welsh.
Canongate, 149 pp., £9.99, July 2004, 1 84195 532 9
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History Play: The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe 
by Rodney Bolt.
HarperCollins, 388 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 00 712123 7
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... their lives: How may we do? I fear me they will live. DUMAINE: Go place some men upon the bridge With bows and darts to shoot at them they see, And sink them in the river as they swim. GUISE: ‘Tis well advised, Dumaine; go see it straight be done. [Exit DUMAINE] And in the meantime, my lord, could we devise To get those pedants from the King ...

Easy-Going Procrastinators

Ferdinand Mount: Margot Asquith’s War, 8 January 2015

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-16: The View from Downing Street 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock, selected by Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 566 pp., £30, June 2014, 978 0 19 822977 3
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Margot at War: Love And Betrayal In Downing Street, 1912-16 
by Anne de Courcy.
Weidenfeld, 376 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 0 297 86983 2
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The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush To War, 1914 
by Douglas Newton.
Verso, 386 pp., £20, July 2014, 978 1 78168 350 7
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... of 1906: The accursed power which stands on Privilege (And goes with Women, and Champagne, and Bridge) Broke – and Democracy resumed her reign: (Which goes with Bridge, and Women and Champagne). As the casualty lists lengthened, so did the card games and the PM’s drives through the Thames Valley with one of his ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... winsome: for example, when Hennessy recalls that the sight of a steam express crossing the Forth Bridge on the opening credits of Six-Five Special had particular resonance for ‘little old trainspotting me’. But he relives very well the innocence and modesty of those years, of which the hard-nosed Sir Kenneth Berrill, later head of Margaret Thatcher’s ...

An Address to the Nation

Clive James, 17 December 1981

... air, Progressing south-east at a dizzy rate Until I look down and see Sydney there. The Harbour Bridge looks like a paperweight, The Opera House like fractured Tupperware. It all shines like quicksilver in the dawn. Cloud-cuckoo-land. The land where I was born. Here when the young are forced to take the dole It just means they spend more time at the ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... D.W. Harding, L.G. Salingar, Peter Ure, Ian Watt, J.C. Maxwell, L.C. Knights, D.J. Enright, Roy Strong, John Broadbent, Arthur Humphreys, Philip Collins, Pat Rogers, D.W. Jefferson and John Preston. What is disturbing is that everyone made his reputation elsewhere, often in the format which is properly Leavisian, the short, iconoclastic critical ...

The Man Who Never Glared

John Pemble: Disraeli, 5 December 2013

Disraeli: or, The Two Lives 
by Douglas Hurd and Edward Young.
Orion, 320 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86097 6
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The Great Rivalry: Gladstone and Disraeli 
by Dick Leonard.
I.B. Tauris, 226 pp., £22.50, June 2013, 978 1 84885 925 8
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Disraeli: The Romance of Politics 
by Robert O’Kell.
Toronto, 595 pp., £66.99, February 2013, 978 1 4426 4459 5
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... between the two protagonists, but updating the story with the recent work of Colin Matthew, Roy Jenkins, Richard Shannon, John Vincent, Sarah Bradford and Stanley Weintraub. Essentially it’s dry-bones parliamentary history – elections, cabinets, reshuffles, bills, budgets, divisions, dissolutions – and its verdict on the falling out hardly deepens ...

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